wherever sound loses
after digging for many days
your hands may become sore
but your eyes moisten
soon as you see a little water.
returning from cutting ribbons at all doors
i realized i had not opened the door to my own room
someone's calling me, repeatedly,
i thought i was being called
i realized later that they were calling themselves.
whenever i climbed up
they invited me with applause
but when i started for the next step
i heard someone asking me to step down.
i roamed all over the garden
a jasmine creeper caught my eye
it had its own personality
whatever it clung to was covered
it could look at the world on its own.
i will win the whole world
would arrive and win me,
first, i will
i'll run the world.
that's my translation of katti padma rao's sweeya mudra ( from his collection of poetry bhoomi bhasha). padma rao is a dalit poet, telugu and sanskrit scholar, and activist-theorist whose hands have grown immensely sore with years and years of digging in and fighting caste from countless trenches across coastal andhra and the rest of the state. so, why is he fighting for a narrow, sub-regional cause now? the 'jai andhra' movement wants a separate state comprising coastal andhra and...? it's not clear whether they want north coastal andhra (3 districts) and rayalaseema (4 districts) to go along with them. or whether people of those regions want to go along with the 'jai andhra' agitators. many political leaders of rayalaseema want andhra pradesh to remain united, and if it's divided, they want a separate rayalaseema too, or even tag along with telangana. and as padma rao himself has admits in this interview, most of the political leadership and public opinion in coastal andhra (including north coastal andhra) and rayalaseema are in favour of 'samaikyandhra' or a united andhra pradesh:
What do the people of Coastal Andhra want?does he have to fight for a separate andhra? if telangana is separated from andhra pradesh, what would remain is the old andhra state, comprising coastal andhra, north coastal andhra and rayalaseema. so, why does anyone need a separate agitation to fight for a separate andhra when they could as well join or support the separate telangana movement? one can think of a few reasons:
Many are supporting Samaikyandhra due to several apprehensions. They need clear answers to certain questions - Will the new state be bound by Bachawath award on river waters? Will the Telangana doras let river water to flow towards the people in Coastal Andhra? There are 30 lakh middle class people from Andhra in Hyderabad. Only a hundred among them are exploiters. Every Telangana MP, including KCR has good connections with them. Telangana leaders say that these exploiters will be welcomed whole heartedly to invest here. Selfish people exist on both sides. KCR and Lagadapati are good friends. We want separate Andhra, irrespective of the formation of Telangana state.
* because the overwhelming majority of the people in coastal andhra, rayalaseema and north coastal andhra support a united andhra pradesh and hence need to be convinced of the merits of bifurcation, as the jai andhra agitators see them?
* because the 'jai andhra' activists feel coastal andhra ( excluding rayalaseema, which was a part of the old andhra state) would develop faster in a separate state of its own?
* because the 'jai andhra' activists feel a particular region in coastal andhra ( excluding north coastal andhra, and comprising east and west godavari, krishna, guntur, prakasam and nellore districts) would develop faster in a separate state of its own?
the jai andhra movement doesn't seem to have decided on a region, or society, it should fight for. does it have a social agenda? katti padma rao had been one of the main architects of the dalit movement in andhra pradesh, had set its tone and tenor in the 80s, its agenda. but the agenda, if any, of the jai andhra movement hasn't been set by padma rao, but by certain upper caste politicians from the krishna-godavari region in coastal andhra: vasantha nageshwara rao and harirama jogaiah, senior politicians who have moved through so many political parties and factions in the last thirty years that the general public doesn't attribute any particular political agenda to them anymore. nor can they win from any constituencies in their home districts on the strength of their past performance as legislators or ministers. while fighting caste has been katti padma rao's lifelong mission, harirama jogaiah and nageshwara rao believe strongly in fighting for castes, or their own individual castes. harirama jogaiah has only talked about the kapus, for several years now, and had played a pivotal role in persuading chiranjeevi to enter politics and lead the kapu nation, or kapu nadu. the kapus, a large collection of peasant sub-castes, have long nursed the 'grievance' that no politician from their caste has ever occupied the chief minister's chair since the formation of andhra pradesh. there have been chief ministers from the reddies, kammas, and velamas: why should the kapus be denied? so dragging chiranjeevi into politics was part of that project. that's jogaiah's social agenda.
what's vasantha nageshwara rao's social agenda? a revival of kamma fortunes? it's even less inspiring. so, again, what's katti padma rao doing in the jai andhra camp, among people closer to the perpetrators of karamchedu and chunduru than the victims of both tragedies?
it was katti padma rao, and a few others, who'd been the driving force behind the protest movements of karamchedu and chunduru, in bringing together dalit leaders, activists and ordinary people from across andhra pradesh to take the voices of the victims to delhi, and to the rest of the country.
balagopal, in the august 15, 1987 issue of the economic and political weekly writes (in the article 'Karamchedu: Second Anniversary') :
The movement was fortunate in having from the start two leaders who were well known and respected in their own Tight for many years before Karamchedu. They are Katti Padma Rao and Bojja Tarakam, currently general secretary and president of the Mahasabha, respectively. Padma Rao belongs to the tradition of organised rationalism that has long been a signifi- cant movement in South India. Rationa- list and atheist associations-for all their dissensions and splits-have a sizeable membership and a larger audience, especially in the coastal Andhra districts. Padma Rao, who teaches Sanskrit (a peculiarly appropriate vocation for a dalit and a rationalist) in a college in Guntur district, is a leading rationalist, and within the rationalist movement has been a spokesman for the Marxist approach to the criticism of religion. Tarakam was even closer to the Communist movement, and was for some time an activist of Virasam, the Revolutionary Writers' Association of A P. As a lawyer, he was active in the civil liberties movement in the state, until he accepted a government pleader's job in 1983 and quit active association with the democratic movement.K.Y.Ratnam also notes at some length, in the paper 'The Dalit Movement and Democratization in Andhra Pradesh' (you'll find the paper here), how katti padma rao had filled a crucial theoretical and leadership gap in the dalit movement in andhra pradesh in the aftermath of karamchedu, when widespread anger combined with despair was spreading across the community in general and the protesters in particular. he had helped the movement gain a new direction and much needed vigour, to put it very mildly.
Karamchedu brought these two men into the streets. Tarakam resigned his government pleader's job and Padma Rao more or less suspended teaching to settle down at Chirala and organise the victims of the assault, who have refused to go back to the village and have built a colony for themselves at Chirala. Slowly, the protest against a particular assault built itself into the Dalit Mahasabha, whose formation on September 1, was attended by about three lakh dalits and sympathisers. [emphasis mine].
so, what is he doing in the 'jai andhra movement' now? a movement without any identifiable social agenda? perhaps, you could say, padma rao's presence is the movement's only social agenda. has katti padma rao allowed himself to be 'won' by some passing 'victors'? does he plan to 'win himself' and 'run the world' ever?